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#NCAAMGym Week 3 Recap Stanford & Oklahoma Still At the Top Of Their Game

2018 is about to be one of the most exciting #NCAAMGym seasons ever. A team ranked seventh in the latest power rankings cruised to the nation's best score this weekend. The unpredictability from week-to-week is the greatest we've seen -- probably since 2012.

Who will put up the highest score next week? Will we see somebody exceed Stanford's 414.1? Time will tell.

Stanford Catches Fire, Posts Nation's Best Score

David Jessen took home the PH title (photo: Jess Frankl)

"Forget about us?" - Stanford, probably.

On Saturday night, in the wee West Coast hours, the Cardinal put together a fantastic performance, wrapping things up with a 414.1, good enough to become the newest high score in the country.

Of their 36 routines, only seven failed to score a 13+. On the flip side of that coin, Stanford posted thirteen scores of 14+. Exactly four of those previously mentioned scores came on floor, an event where the Cardinal put together an impressive 71.25 -- good enough for second-best on that event of any team all season.

On a day where Robert Neff didn't do all-around, freshman Andrew Bitner stepped up to post an 80.1. His day was highlighted by a 14.4 on FX. Bitner is right up there with Minnesota's Shane Wiskus for most impressive freshman thus far.

Andrew Bitner (photo via GoStanford.com)

Altogether, Stanford ended the day with a new high score on every event. In fact, their FX, VT, PB & HB teams ALL recorded scores that rank top-five nationally this season.

Cardinal titles came from all over the place: Connor Lewis (FX), David Jessen/Joey Ringer (PH), Thomas Lee (SR), Bailey Perez (VT) and Grant Breckenridge (HB).

Stanford is officially deep in the mix of teams that have a shot at hoisting a national championship trophy at the end of the year.

Not to be overshadowed was the day that Cal (395.05) had. After a week off, the Golden Bears came into Palo Alto and exceeded their original team score by almost five points.

Aaron Mah continues to have a strong start to the season -- he won the all-around title with an 80.35. "Aaron showed a lot of strength again this meet during the all-around," head coach JT Okada told calbears.com. "It wasn't his best, but to win the all-around shows the potential of him and honestly it shows the potential of this team.”

Aaron Mah (photo: Jess Frankl)

The Mah-Yordan Aleksandrov 1-2 punch was in full effect as Aleksandrov added a title of his own -- his being on parallel bars.

One Golden Bear freshman to look out for is Shane Sadighi. For the second-straight meet, Sadighi competed all six events, this time bettering his total by nearly two full points (77.1). The California-native sits No. 21 nationally as an all-arounder.

Rounding out the field were the Washington Huskies (368.3). A pair of gymnasts picked up top-five finishes on the night with Nathan Tsuji finishing fifth on PH and Benjamin Bloom (Club Gymnast of the Week) fifth in the all-around.

Illini Continues Ascent, Beats Penn State on the Road

Tyson Bull won high bar (photo: Jess Frankl)

For all of about six hours, Illinois (412.5) owned the top team score in the land. Then Stanford happened. Still, a lot of good to take away for Justin Spring and his team.

The Illini became just the second team (along with Oklahoma) to record three event scores of 70+ in a single meet. Floor (71.4) was the best event of the day for Illinois as that score was good enough for best in the country. Alex Diab's 14.8 on that event also sits as the best in the land.

Diab's day didn't stop there -- he also won rings with a 14.7.

Alex Diab played a large role in the Illini's win over Penn State (photo: Jess Frankl)

Other Illini wins came from Brandon Ngai (PH), Jacob Light (VT) and Tyson Bull (HB). "The team had a great meet with an 80 percent hit ratio," Spring told fightingillini.com. "I am very proud of these guys for putting up the highest score in the NCAA this year."

Obviously, that quote was prior to Stanford competing. You can check out highlights of Illinois' day here.

For Penn State (405.9), the day was a story of one uncharacteristically bad event (PH - 63.05) putting them in a hole. The Nittany Lions did, however, pick things up in a big way on parallel bars (69.85) by recording the second-best score of any team this season. Sam Zakutney (B1G Gymnast of the Week) won that event with a 14.45 while his teammate, Wyatt Tyndall, finished second.

Zakutney was named B1G Gymnast of the Week (photo: Jess Frankl)

Zakutney returned to the all-around (80.7) after a lighter couple of weeks.

Oklahoma Opens Season Looking Strong

Matt Wenske won vault on Saturday (photo: Jess Frankl)

Anybody remember this Oklahoma team? They're pretty good still, apparently. In their first action of 2018 the Sooners squeezed out a 411.65 -- good enough for the fourth-best score in the NCAA this season.

After the first two events it looked like Michigan (403.65) might have a real shot at defeating Oklahoma. While they weren't able to, they still gave the Sooners one heck of a fight. "We started poorly," OU head coach Mark Williams told soonersports.com. "When you start like that, you open yourself to not competing the way we want to. We needed to change our attitudes or we were going to be beat.”

No doubt, pommel horse will be a point of emphasis for Williams and his team this week. Yul Moldauer (NCAA Gymnast of the Week) was the only top-six finisher on the event as he won with a 13.9.

Moldauer kicked off his Junior season on Saturday (photo: Jess Frankl)

The Sooners got hot in the second-half, recording scores of 70+ on three of the final four events. Genki Suzuki recorded a pair of top-three finishes on PB (14.15) and HB (14.15), winning the latter event.

Other event winners included Moldauer (SR, PB), Matt Wenske (VT) and Levi Anderson (AA).

"We need to get better," Williams continued. "We have two great teams coming to Norman next weekend. If we do our job we are going to be fine. We cannot beat ourselves."

Those two great teams? Stanford & Nebraska. It's going to be a good one.

It was a very solid start to the season for Michigan. To be able to hang with the three-time defending national champions is no easy feat. The Wolverines actually defeated the Sooners on both FX & PH, getting off to a great start. Alec Krystek won Michigan's only event title of the day on floor with this beautiful set.

Saturday also marked the beginning of a couple of Wolverine careers. Most noteworthy performances came from former top-recruit Cameron Bock (PH - 2nd) and Jacob Moore (13.7 four-event average).

Michigan will compete for the second time in 2018 this weekend against arch-rival Ohio State.

Gophers Pick Up B1G Win Over Hawkeyes

Joel Gagnon (photo: Jess Frankl)

The score (405.9) might not have reflected it, but Minnesota proved they're right there amongst the top B1G teams on Saturday. The Gophers took down conference-rival Iowa (395.45) in the process.

A large reason for the successful day was Shaun Herzog -- a gymnast that head coach Mike Burns described as a potential breakout candidate in the preseason. The junior compiled a 13.83 five-event average, including an event win on parallel bars.

Mike Burns & Shaun Herzog (photo: Jess Frankl)

"I felt really confident on every single set today, especially on parallel bars," Herzog told gophersports.com. "That was probably my most proud moment.”

Another Gopher who continues to live up to (and in some cases exceed) expectations is Shane Wiskus (NCAA Rookie of the Week). He picked up another B1G Freshman of the Week accolade thanks to an 82.55 all-around score -- the second-highest in the NCAA this season.

Minnesota's day also included titles from Vitali Kan (FX), Alex Wittenberg (VT) and Tristan Duran (HB).

Iowa continues to hang right in that mid-390 range after visiting Minneapolis this weekend. Their pommel horse (65.8) success continues as it was the only event where the Hawkeyes prevailed over the Gophers.

Bennet Huang continues to be a workhorse for Iowa as he competed all six for the third-straight week, and increased his total (77.3) yet again.

Individual winners included Jake Brodarzon (SR) and Austin Hodges yet again on pommel horse.

Falcons Win Twice In Three Days

(photo: Jess Frankl)

It was a great couple days to be an Air Force fan. With a rare double-meet weekend, the Falcons found themselves in West Point on Friday where they took down Army (394.75 - 394.15), and Springfield on Sunday where they defeated the Pride (397.1 - 387.2).

Friday was a barn-burner -- the closest meet (.6) that we've seen so far this season. On the day, four Falcons combined for five individual titles: Fletcher Braunton (PH, SR), Ryan Girouard (FX), Jonathon Fornoff (PB) and Lukas Texeira (HB).

This win might have meant a little extra to the double-event winner, Braunton, as his father, Gregg, used to be a kicker for Army's football team.

Fletcher Braunton (photo: Amy Sanderson/Air Force Athletics)

Despite the loss, what an improvement this represented for Army. They bested their previous season-high score by over ten points. The Black Knights set season-bests as a team on four events (PH, SR, PB & HB). Their lone event winner was Ryan Wilson on vault with a 14.1.

High bar was the highlight of the night for Army as their 65.8 tied for the 14th-best team score in the country this year. Three scores of 13.0+ came from Elliott Herman, Alejandro Tombrink and Nathan Goff.

Nathan Goff (photo: Jess Frankl)

Sunday went even better for Air Force who improved on their top-team score that was set just 48 hours prior. Girouard (FX), Braunton (PH) and Texeira (HB) repeated as event winners to go along with Christian Kalustian who won vault.

Ryan Girouard (photo: Jess Frankl)

The Falcons don't have a 'star' but it doesn't look like they need one.

Similar to (seemingly) everyone else in the NCAA, Springfield used this weekend to continue their upward swing in score. Their 387.2 came on the back of three solid all-around performances from the usual trio of Chris Graff (77.8 - ECAC Gymnast of the Week), Stephen Lewis (76.15) and Josh Dieker (75.5). Individual event winners were Dieker on rings and Jannik Haas on parallel bars.

Navy Keeps Winning, Downs W&M, Temple

Ryan McVay (photo via navysports.com)

Things continue going well for Navy. Playing host to William & Mary and Temple for the second weekend in a row, Navy (396.4) didn't have much trouble taking down the Tribe (389.3) and Owls (242.05).

"We started off right where we left off last weekend and that was really impressive,” head coach Kip Simons told navysports.com. “We used a little bit of different personnel throughout the first four events and we didn’t skip a beat."

The Mids were without team captain, Noah Beeman, though freshman Ryan McVay (ECAC Rookie of the Week) did everything in his power to fill the void. His first time competing all six at the college level, McVay won the meet with a 77.8 -- not too bad.

(photo: Jess Frankl)

Also chipping in with titles were Andy Jones (FX/ECAC Specialist of the Week), Tanner West (SR) and Ben Provost (HB).

"Overall, I’m happy with where we’re at and I’m pleased that the guys did not let down even though we had to rely on a few more reserves than we normally would," continued Simons. "Ultimately, we walked away with a quality win against a conference rival that won the league championship last year so that’s a good day. The team knows that come Monday there is work to be done before we face Army."

Saturday brought four new season-high event scores (PH, SR, VT & HB) for W&M that contributed to a near six-point improvement in team total. Three Tribe gymnasts left as event winners with Jacopo Gliozzi taking pommel horse, Griffin Antle the parallel bars and Tim O'Neill vault.

The Tribe will still be seeking a higher total on PH as they have yet to cross the 61 mark through three meets.

The Temple Owls traveled to Annapolis on Saturday with five competitors. They left with a pair of top-10 finishes, belonging to Evan Salters (SR) and Nicolino Dibattista (HB).

Sun Devils Post Season-Best To Defeat SC, NorCal United

Riley Ward (photo: Jess Frankl)

Two weeks, two all-around titles for AZ State freshman Kiwan Watts. He was even better this weekend breaking the 80-mark with an 80.05. Watts grabbed three event crowns by winning SR, VT and PB. He now sits No. 4 nationally on parallel bars.

There were plenty more encouraging things to note for Arizona State, including the 76.95 for Nikita Latman (along with a PH title), FX title from Daniel Bronnenberg and HB title from Kirk Malm.

It won't be easy, but the Sun Devils have a shot at pushing for 400 as a team.

In their second meet of 2018, SC United put together a 343.4. Top-five finishes came from William Pearce (PH), Diego Neumaier (SR) and Ivan Alpizar (VT). Alpizar actually tied for the VT title with a 14.2.

NorCal United, in their first ever recorded meet, scored a 196.8.

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Logan Bradley
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Unless otherwise noted, all photos courtesy of Jess Frankl.

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